May 22, 2010

Air India crash in Mangalore

Another horrendous air crash following the one in Libya last week. This time it's an Air India crash, not a Libyan one.

A Boeing 737, operated by Air India, crashed after trying to land at Mangalore airpost in SE India. It was on a flight from Dubai.

Initial reports are that there were some 170 people on board but acurate numbers are not yet known. There were also reports that some 6 or 7 survivors had been pulled from the wreckage.

The Air India crash itself seems to have come from the fact that Mangalore is a "table top" runway. If you miss of overshoot the runway then there is a cliff at the end of it and the plane fell over this, bursting into flames as it did so.

The Air India plane crashed and burst into flames as it was landing in the city of Mangalore.

The plane, which took off from Dubai at 0100 local time, was reported to have 156 passengers and six crew on board but earlier reports said the plane was carrying 169.

Locals were first to the wreckage and were believed to have rescued six survivors, while other reports said seven people were alive.

Flying is still safer than driving, although there are days and weeks when it sure doesn't feel like it.

May 22, 2010 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2010

Winter breaks time!

Yes, it's just been half term so now of course it's time for us adults to get away and be off to see something different. Get away from the kinds, kick back and relax a little. Which brings us to hte question of where should you go for a little winter break?

Well, of course, we could go skiing but that's way too energetic. And in the middle of winter there's not much point in going anywhere else outside. Which leads us to thinking about the great cities as places to go. And thus Edinburgh.

First things first though, before thinking about what to do while there, what about Edinburgh accommodation? What should we be looking for as a place to stay? Well, as a first pass, probably not a hotel: they are, in the UK, famously expensive for not all that good a service. B&B's, weel having been in a Scottish one of those I wouldn't recomment it. Which leaves us with what is in fact the best option, renting one of the Edinburgh apartments that are available on short term lets.

Excellent, well, we've got the city and the place to lay our weary heads: what should we actually do or see in the city while there? This is where Edinburgh adds so much value. But the time you're in the city you are able to walk pretty much everywhere you might want to go. No public transport issues, no hassles with cars. And as to what to do, well, the place is stuffed with galleries and museums and, of course, very decent pubs. Which is what I would recommend you do: culture and booze. Just the way to recover from the children's half term.

February 23, 2010 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2010

Wintering in Alba

It might not have been the most sensible thing I've ever done but it was certainly one of the more enjoyable. Traipsing off to Scotland (Alba of old) in the middle of winter to roam around Inverness and the whisky trail. That of course was way back when when I was a student: now I'd be a little more discerning about where I laid my head at night. Scottish B&B's, at least back then, didn't have a reputation as the most warm and welcoming of places.<br /><br />These days I don't think I'd go that far north. In fact, the place I'd really like to go to as a Scottish winter holiday is Edinburgh. Yes, even in the current weather, in fact especially in the current weather, I think it would be a fabulous place to go. For I've found out that you can rent <a href="">Edinburgh apartments</a> for short term stays. That sounds hugely better than either the B&B or even the hotels. Somewhere with a kitchen for example pleases me a great deal better than a place without one. You've simply got so many more choices about what to eat and when.<br /><br />And if I could get <a href="">Edinburgh accommodation</a> right down in the New Town (or at least close by) then I'd be even happier. For that's really what I would do if I went up there, roam around the Georgian part of town. Partly because I'm from Bath and would like to see how they differ but more because that's what a winter holiday to me means: being right in the heart of a city and only venturing out for the brief moments it takes to traverse from book shop to pub, or cafe to restaurant.<br /><br />Hmm, excuse me while I go look at making travel arrangements would you?

January 13, 2010 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2009

Terrafugia Transition

Yes, it's here, my flying car has arrived. The Terrafugia Transition delivers what we've all wanted, a way to rise above the traffic jams but still to drive along the open roads.

Well, OK, it's not quite the completed article yet, it's a bit of a kludge, but the Terrafugia Transition is at least almost all of the way there, to the flying car.

You may not have noticed it, but history was made on March 5 at 7:40 a.m. when the Terrafugia

Transition lifted off the runway for the first time at New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport. The Transition is the first “roadable airplane” that is completely self-contained in ground mode; previous attempts at flying cars required the wings or other components to be trailered on the ground.
This is what the Terrafugia Transition offers:

It was one short flight for a car, one significant step for a Boston-area start up developing what may be the ultimate hybrid.

Terrafugia's Transition is part-car, part-airplane and as of this month, a flight-worthy creation. The vehicle successfully completed its first test flight earlier this month, the company announced on Wednesday.

The flight was short -- just 37 seconds -- and right over the runway, but as Anna Mracek Dietrich, a Terrafugia co-founder and its chief operating officer, pointed out, flying wasn't the key goal.

And this is what the Terrafugia Transition actually looks like in action:

Looks good, don't it?

As you can imagine this has really hit the news.

Terrafugia Transition makes "flying car" a reality |
By Patrick Westbrook
First Flight of the Terrafugia Transition Its a car and a plane in one. Yesterday after months of testing the Transition made the first flight from the. Plattsburgh International Airport in NY. For its first flight, the Transition was ...

Video: Terrafugia's flying car lifts off
By Joseph L. Flatley
We've had a lot of fun with Terrafugia over the last year or so, but we weren't exactly holding our breath in anticipation of the Transition's maiden flight. That said, we're definitely psyched to hear that the "roadable aircraft" went ...

First successful flight of Terrafugia flying car • VideoSift ...
By kronosposeidon (
From uploader: "Not a flying car, but a roadable aircraft, the Terrafugia Transition took flight for the first time March 5, 2009." Comments subscribe to this feed. Submit Comment. log in or register to submit new comment ...

Terrafugia developing the Transition, a weird-looking flying car ...
It may be decades from now before we see flying cars go mainstream but a company called Terrafugia made the Transition---a plane that looks like ...

New York Daily News
the ultimate convertible: A flying car
New York Daily News - New York,NY,USA
The "Transition Car" built by Terrafugia Inc. (Latin for escape from land) cruises up to 450 miles at more than 115 mph, tools along on land at highway ...
Is it a car? Or, is it an airplane? It's The Transition!
iTWire - Australia
... The Transition Roadable Aircraft is: “Taking advantage of new FAA regulations in the Light Sport Aircraft category, Terrafugia developed the Transition® ...
Link Love From The Car Connection: Flying Cars, Swimming Buses ... - USA
... admit we were wr...wr...overly pessimistic about the world's first flying car, the Terrafugia Transition. Seems that the damn thing can fly after all. ...

March 21, 2009 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 15, 2009

Travelling to Tahiti

I was pondering, wondering, as I've never been to the pacific or the southern hemisphere, when to travel to Tahiti?

What's the best time of year?

March 15, 2009 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2007

Something I Didn't Know

Yes, yes, OK, there's a long list of things I didn't and don't know but at least I do now know this:

This left refiners with a lot of stock that they could only shift by keeping prices down, Mr Holloway said. In any case, the market dynamics of petrol are very different to crude. Once the raw material is boiled down and turned into petrol, this end product has a limited shelf life. Petrol is difficult to store, and goes off after a time. It can be re-processed, but this is an expensive procedure.

Petrol has a shelf life? Who knew?

Another nice point made by Dean Baker. Yes, the oil price is rising in $. But the dollar is falling against other currencies. The price in € and £ isn't rising as fast at all.

September 14, 2007 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 11, 2007

Michael Palin

Michael Palin has already travelled around the world, from pole to pole and across the Himalayas. Here he explains what drove him to make his latest odyssey, from Estonia to Albania - across the 'new Europe'.

Because he's already done all the interesting journeys.

September 11, 2007 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007

How Not to Run a Bus Service

Really, whio thought this up?

Unlike the bus companies anywhere else in the United Kingdom, these London bus companies do not have a revenue structure related to the number of passengers they carry or the fares they receive: oh no, that would be far too commonsensical.

It is a stunning fact that the London transport authorities do not even tell their contractors - the bus companies - how much cash they are generating in fares, and the bus companies do not know exactly which routes are popular and which are not, because all that kind of detail is jealously guarded by Transport for London.

Instead, they are simply paid to ply the route, and they are paid according to a formula that depends on the number of miles travelled during the day; and so the buses' real incentive is to whizz around London as fast as possible with as few passengers as possible, and certainly not to linger for a straggler.

Talk about getting the incentives wrong...paying by mileage, not passengers? So, of course, you're going to maximise mileage not passengers...which isn't, as far as I can recall, the point of a public transport systm. It's supposed to be more about transporting the public, isn't it?

September 6, 2007 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

September 05, 2007

What a Bargain!

No, this isn't an ad: just an observation.

Barbary pirates from the 17th century have inspired a former Royal Navy commander to spend 12 years converting an Arctic trawler into a £6 million replica pirate ship, which is now set for its maiden voyage.
Mr Neilson plans to use the vessel for adventure holidays for families. The 11-week maiden voyage, which is available to people of all ages, will include visits to several countries and four weeks in the Caribbean. The cost is between £2,000 and £3,000.

Three grand for 11 weeks at sea? Got to be one of the best bargains available.

September 5, 2007 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

Cuban Escapees: Why Florida?

D2 makes an interesting point in a comment here. So, if Cuba is so uniquely awful (not that I think it is, there are places worse: N. Korea and currently Zimbabwe come to mind) why is that all the refugees seem to aim for Florida, not Jamaica or the Dominican Republic?

I've always wondered why there are no (like almost literally zero) Cuban refugees in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic (which are at least as close to the eastern end of Cuba as Florida is to the western end), and suspected that this lends support to the economic migrant theory. Vietnamese boat people scattered all over the South China Sea looking for refuge, rather than making a bee-line uniquely toward Hong Kong.

So I thought I would try to find out why this was so. I think I have:


Those escapees are not over endowed with motor transport and so, when they strap a plank to their backs, sit on an inner tube or build a small raft then they are relying upon the ocean currents to take them somewhere, anywhere. Now I agree that my geography is not the very best but that would seem to imply that if you do that, you're going to get to the US, the Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos islands.


More than one-hundred Cubans at refugee camp in the Bahamas have begun a hunger strike to protest against living conditions and to demand visas to third countries.

So they do end up there as well. Just to show that neither my nor D2's theory is perfect:

More than two dozen Cuban refugees were picked up by a cruise ship off the coast of Jamaica, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

  The same Carnival cruise ship picked up 22 Cubans headed for the United States near Cancun, Mexico, late last month.

Perhaps this thing about currents isn't a 100% thing: or perhaps the escapees do indeed try to get to places like Jamaica? Or even, as the US is the only place that will actually allow such people in, it makes sense to try for the US, the current helping matters, but that it doesn't always quite work?

There is another view possible, of course:

The myth of the refugees was forged to support the counter-revolutionary interest of discrediting the Cuban socialist model and was strengthened by the application of strategies aimed at straining US-Cuba relations.

Finally, I'm not really all that impressed with the idea that "they're only economic migrants" as an explanation. I've been an economic migrant, moving from the UK, to Russia, to the US and now in Portugal as a way of bettering either my income or lifestyle. D2 has been one, descending from some hill farm in Wales to the civilization of the City. It's not just that it seems a little odd to dismiss others for doing what we have already done: we most certainly did not risk drowning, being eaten by sharks nor imprisonment if caught in order to do so. I agree that D2 had to move out of the comfort zone of the 15th century, but still not at any great personal risk. That people are risking these dangers rather seems to say something about Cuba, don't you think?

August 10, 2007 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack